Charlotte's Web

Blogging my world since 2006

Things To Do Instead of Writing


You can spend time with friends, with old friends, who because you haven’t seen them for so long, seem like new friends, and with new friends, who because you feel so strangely at one with them, seem like old friends. You can drink wine with them in the afternoon, share your kids with them, wander new streets with them, and make extravagant promises to babysit their kids, once they have some.

You can spend an entire afternoon in Berlin looking for the perfect dress. You can look for something whimsical and floaty, with tea roses and cleavage, that looks like Jane Austen wore it to a party where there was croquet and Indian tea, but finally buy a twenty-first century dress, a little edgy, a little sharp, but with its curves in the right places. Also with cleavage.

You can drive long distances, to places you never dreamt of visiting, take trains where your children press their noses against the windows, ride bikes around the city of your dreams, bump into pedestrians and mutter sorry in two languages. You can float down a river, or down a leafy path in the Tiergarten and hear the white wolves howl at the daylight in the Zoo.

You can read A Quiet Flame and imagine the encroaching horror of Nazism in Thirties’ Berlin, and then read No one belongs here more than you and be swept away into an imagination and a sensibility that leaves you shell-shocked, war-wounded, but glad to be alive.

You can eat the best ice-cream outside of Elba in a glass palace of shops and elegance, merguez sausages and couscous in a leafy beer-garden, white asparagus with hollandaise sauce in an achingly hip urban square and the best rhubarb cake you can imagine in the courtyard of an Italian restaurant where you are introduced to the chef and the hostess by name.

You can climb with your children to the top of the Siegesauele, admire them hanging upside down and learning to swing and slide by themselves in playgrounds, watch them falling in love with your friends and weeping when they part, and see them take part in their lives with such spirit and joy that you want to shed tears of your own.

Instead of weeping, you shout, “Who loves Berlin?” and hear them yelling back, “Me Mummy! I love Berlin! I love it! I do!”

Author: charlotteotter

Novelist, feminist, crime writer

23 thoughts on “Things To Do Instead of Writing

  1. But after you’ve done the things you’ve described, you can now write about them!!!

  2. How truly wonderful! I want to go!

  3. Did you say instead of writing? I guess everybody needs a break sometime, but who would want to do something other than writing?…

    Great post!

  4. Oh, it sounds like a wonderful trip! I am so glad you had such a great holiday – you certainly deserve it. And now, (shhhh), and now…to the novel again?

  5. Wow, it sounds more wonderful than life here! Although I do like Berlin very much. Tell some of the names of the shops and restaurants you enjoyed, if you have time… Glad you had fun!

  6. A thoughtful post Charlotte. You have captured a whimsical way of enjoying the small, but not insignificant, pleasures of traveling.

  7. Lovely to have you back, Charlotte! All my students who’ve spent their year abroad there adore Berlin, and now at least I have some idea why!

  8. What a nice week you had! Could we please get a look at THE dress, if possible?

  9. What a wonderfully written post Charlotte. I love how you cpature things, it’s so uniquely… you!

  10. Sounds like a wonderful trip and the kids had a ball too!

  11. Yay! She’s back! Photo of dress please! :-))) Glad you found it.

  12. No One Belongs Here More Than You was fantastic. I loved that book. Your Berlin descriptions make me want to go 🙂

  13. What wonderful memories you have created with your family. Reading your post brings back memories of my holiday to Berlin. A place I would like to revisit again.

  14. Sounds like a wonderful trip. Who wrote A Quiet Flame?

  15. It sounds like you had a great time. You brought your holiday to life for me, and now I’m envious and want to go to Berlin too!

  16. You make the ordinary sound extraordinary – wonderful writing. Makes me homesick for university days in Berlin. I haven’t been back since before the Wall fell ….

    PS Did you find your dress at KaDeWe?

  17. Yes please – pics of the dress! Because then I’m booking a ticket to Berlin going to buy one for me too 🙂 Hope you got a chance to look at the unbelievable food section in KaDeWe – it knocks the socks off Harrods.

    Glad you had such a lovely time and loved your post – but even more glad that you’re back!

  18. Oh sounds lovely… you wrote about it beautifully! I must say, it looks like you are going to have to post pictures of the dress.

  19. I am glad you had such a wonderful time!

  20. That all sounds better than working! I demand pictures of this beautiful dress.

  21. Oh, I so want to live in Berlin. But since I cannot, YOU dear Charlotte, have brought me the next best thing. It sounds fabulous — the food, the dress, the children, the train, the whole beautiful place. Thank you.

  22. Hmmm…sounds like the things you do when not writing are far better than the things I do. Could we swap lives for a little while? I’ll go dress shopping in Berlin, eat ice cream and sausages, and play with your children, and you can work on trying to make some sense of the mess in my attic for me.

  23. Pingback: Litlove’s Parenting Meme « Charlotte’s Web

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